Promoting STEAM learning in the early years: “Pequeños Científicos” Program

  • Valeria M. Cabello Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Facultad de Educación and Centro de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada del Riesgo de Desastres (CIGIDEN), Chile https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6190-9187
  • M. Loreto Martinez Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Escuela de Psicología and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Centro de Estudios y Desarrollo de Talentos programa PENTA UC, Chile https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4309-4591
  • Solange Armijo Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Centro de Estudios y Desarrollo de Talentos programa PENTA UC, Chile Chile https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8239-0668
  • Lesly Maldonado Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Centro de Estudios y Desarrollo de Talentos programa PENTA UC, Chile https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4298-7109
Keywords: learning, STEAM, early childhood education, gender

Abstract

Education in the early years is an excellent space for promoting integrated learning. The STEAM education model combines Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics holistically and has gained force globally, mostly in developed countries. However, in developing countries of Latin America, STEAM education programs are incipient and still unfamiliar to many early childhood and primary school educators. "Pequeños Científicos" is a pioneer educational program in Chile aimed at providing extracurricular academic enrichment to students 3 to 10 years old, with a gender-empowering approach. With a cross-sectional design and integrating data from students, researchers and educators, this article documents program design and implementation issues based on a partial application of SWOT analysis grounded on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The strengths were the strongest elements that might be transferred to similar interventions, for instance, students were positively engaged in the learning processes and actively communicating their advances through diverse artistic formats. The weaknesses were mainly difficulties that can be avoided in future replication, such as teachers' management of children's behavior. Opportunities present alternatives to these types of programs to improve and grow; for example, through articulation of the courses and including children with additional needs. We call for tackling the weaknesses for more efficient application and discuss the promotion of STEAM learning in the early years in the contexts of high educational inequality for future replication in diverse contexts.

Published
2021-03-18
How to Cite
Cabello, V. M., Martinez, M. L., Armijo, S., & Maldonado, L. (2021). Promoting STEAM learning in the early years: “Pequeños Científicos” Program. LUMAT: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education, 9(2), 33–62. https://doi.org/10.31129/LUMAT.9.2.1401